Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The perfect baguette in Palm Springs...!

We visited the gourmet shop called "The Mad French Lady's Gourmet Foods" and found a bagette that comes very close to the wonderful baguettes of kidding! You can't even count on getting great baguettes in France these days. The owner is a woman from Grenoble. She's got some interesting stuff but prices are fairly high. It seems like her store is a one-off and very difficult to compete with Trader Joe's. However, as much as I love Trader Joe's products they don't have a baguette worth bothering with....other breads there are great.

The Red Tomato and House of Lamb

This restaurant along with a funky Mexican place called El Gallito were slated for demolition but fought for heritage status since they've been around forever and are special features in the area. We haven't been to the Mexican one yet...tried to go when Richard was here but too much of a line up. The Red Tomato has an early bird special for $8.95 which is amazing. We started with salad with about 3 oz of blue cheese, then lamb shank which I could only eat half of (so we took the rest home for lunch the next day), and ice cream for dessert. Chianti in a wicker basket was $18. It's like stepping out of time...a real old time Italian restaurant complete with red checkered tablecloths. Some Americans at the next table started chatting with us. People strike up conversations everywhere around's quite charming.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Riverside County Fair

The ejection seat ride...for people who want to get the James Bond feel of being ejected.

Riverside County Fair

This ride was quite something to watch...only 2 people per time and they got quite a blast for their money!

feb07riverside fair 002

Riverside County Fair

Riverside County Fair

I guess recruitment booths are a part of all county fairs.

Riverside County Fair

The kids were really enjoying this ride...looked like a lot of fun.

Riverside County Fair

Riverside County Fair

Rosaire's Bears...very popular and no one seemed to be bleating about animal rights. A different world down here.

Riverside County Fair

This is what we had for lunch...wonderful stuff with various bar-b-que sauces such as vinegar which tasted great on the fries. We passed on the deep fried twinkies and burgers made with a Krispy Kreme Donut as a bun.

Riverside County Fair022

Riverside County Fair

These booths seemed to be getting a big play...wouldn't think so these days with digital cameras but perhaps its the migrant farming groups that would take advantage of these or perhaps it's a Fair tradition.

Riverside County Fair

Riverside County Fair

For a "cultural experience" we went to the Fair yesterday.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fairhaven, Bellingham

Our hotel.

Fairhaven, Bellingham

This great bookstore.

Fairhaven, Bellingham

Movies are shown here in the summer.

Fairhaven, Bellingham

Fairhaven, Bellingham

We loved being in this heritage part of Bellingham on the way down...really worth a visit.

Rancho Mirage Library

We love this library! We went to a talk on Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald last week. Great lecture hall and sound system. Every week they have a live concert of some excellent pianist last week.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Our patio and cactus garden.

Our patio and tangelo orange tree.

Our Condo

Our Condo

I love seeing the olive trees and also lots of citrus trees all around the grounds.

Our Condo

We get some great views of the mountains from our condo grounds.

La Quinta

There was a street art show going on when we were in La Quinta...some interesting things to look at.

La Quinta

These are handpainted sun umbrellas...a good idea but chez nous I don't think they would last long and it would be a lot of work and paint.

La Quinta

Cool Bikes

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Golf Course Palm Desert

I can never get enough of these mountains.

The hounds of the Baskervilles.

There are a number of dogs who cheer us on while playing golf. These ones sat down quietly and watched me drive but they barked furiously at Richard and Jim. Guess they know how to treat a pro.

Golf Course Palm Desert

Jim teeing up.

Golf Course Palm Desert

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

La Quinta

Mary Pickford Theatre

Mary Pickford Theatre

Mary Pickford Theatre

Our nearest cinema just happens to be the landmark Mary Pickford Theatre. They have quite a neat little museum with her Oscars and other memorabilia. We saw "Letters from Iwo Jima" there...none of us were that impressed with the movie. Not much new to say and the letter thing ended up being a bit tacky.

Mary Pickford Theatre

Monday, February 19, 2007

Richard with his favourite beer!

Richard found his favourite beer at Trader Joes "Red Seal" and is enjoying here on our patio. We had a lot of fun together and even played some golf. Richard hadn't played since he was a kid and we were impressed with his nice easy swing. He attributes it to playing golf on this new Nintendo system. Who knows? He left quite early this morning to meet a friend in LA and go to LACMA (great LA art museum) before his flies home tonight.

Seems like he got my photos working so will use this as a test.

He loved his Grill-a-Burger...seems he's only had burgers for breakfast since he arrived...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rancho Mirage Library

We became members of this library this year since there is so much great material to borrow. It cost $30 for a 6 month out-of-town membership and we feel we have our money's worth already. Last week we picked up the made for TV series Lonesome Dove and really enjoyed it as well as Cold Comfort Farm and a Hitchcock we hadn't seen before called Foreign Correspondent...a little hokey but very watchable. Jim's spotted all sorts of interesting material relevant to teaching. We've also started watching a super documentary called Cadillac Desert which focuses on the diverting of rivers to supply the whole southern California area with water.

As well as loads of videos and DVD's they have the Vancouver Sun and The London Times and various free concerts and lectures. And of course computers with Internet access and wireless throughout. We're lucky we are currently poaching on an open connection in our condo but otherwise these services would have been essential to keep us connected. They have a used bookstore with lots of great bargains and a coffee shop.

Each community down here has a super library and Saturday morning we'll be heading to La Quinta Library for their book sale. We got there at the tail end of it last year and there were still great deals.

Itty Bitty Book Review: The Time In Between

"The Time In Between" by David Bergen

I got this novel at our bookclub Christmas Book Exchange and was quite impressed with this Winnipeg author I hadn't read anything by before. It's about a Vietnam vet who goes back to Vietnam and ends up being missing. His son and daughter go to find him. Bogs down a bit but generally a pretty good read.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Somehow we missed this last year but since we arrived we seem to be constantly hearing about this famous burger restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. We went for a stroll in downtown yesterday and ended up here for lunch. Now we know why it's the talk of the town! We will definitely be taking Richard there for lunch when he comes to visit next weekend.

We each had a fabulous gourmet burger washed down with a bottle of amazingly good cab for $14. Jim had the Baja...jalapeno peppers, grilled onions, pepper jack cheese and bacon on a cheese bun. I had the Shroom....mushrooms, crispy onion rings, bacon, crumbled blue cheese and aioli dressing. We had a table outside and a few drops of rain sprinkled us then the sun reappeared for the rest of the afternoon. I can see how their yearly rainfall here is less than 8 inches.

In the evening, just before 6pm so we got the matinee rate of $1.50, we took in the movie The Departed. It was quite good...certainly an all star cast. This movie theatre is amazing in their prices. They have 10 movies (many still in the theatres)
for the matinee price of 1.50 (up from a buck last year) and 2.50 for after 6pm. Casino Royale is coming next week and there are others we want to see.

Jim is out playing an Arnold Palmer managed golf course on a twilight rate (after 2pm) of $25 including electric cart. Quite a deal and it looked like a great course when we dropped by yesterday.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

La Quinta Art Show

We went to the old town of La Quinta yesterday to see their outdoor art show. It's always fun to visit this little village and we had a great lunch sitting outside in the sun. There were some interesting things to see in terms of the art. I was most interested in how some of the artists did these wonderful mountains...not sure if it will help me do it myself but always good to see what other peopel do. Someone had painted market umbrellas. They looked great and it is something I could do but they wear out so quickly in our climate I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

On the way back we went into Penny's and each got a pair of athletic shoes we would normally pay over a hundred dollars for for 40 bucks each...a combination of sale price and special coupon. Yesterday we had our first Wal-Mart experience and were very impressed with the prices. We bought some inexpensive tennis racquets to fool around with since we have tennis courts here. Also a hot tea maker for 20 bucks which we are enjoying very much since we don't have a kettle here and the teapot drips. I've been missing my tea maker!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I beat the pro!

Jim and I played a Par 3 golf course yesterday in Palm Desert. I want to start off slowly since I haven't played for a while. Wonderful views of the San Jacinto Mountains...I'll have to remember to take my camera next time. And I will try to paint them from that view. My first painting will be of our cactus garden on our patio. I haven't painted for a while either so will start off with something I think I can do...I never really know if I will be able to do anything!

But back to the big news. I actually beat Jim by one stroke on this course. He was ahead slightly then on the last hole I hit the green on my tee shot and made a par. Jim hit the green as well but it bounced into the sand trap in a really awkward place to get a shot. You needed to be a mountain goat. He managed get it out but the shot went into the water hazard, then he hacked his way to the hole...very sweet!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Embraced by the San Jacinto Mountains

I do love these wonderful mountains that surround us here. There is something very spiritual about them. My friend, Claire, really feels that and feels almost compelled to go hiking in them 2 or 3 times a week when she and Tom are down here. I will continue to try to capture them with paint this time. Of course, nothing will ever compete for my heart than the mountains and ocean of the Vancouver skyline however these are very special. The two are so opposite, wet, coastal and dry, warm desert.

I think my first painting will be these lovely little cactus garden and fountain on our patio. And then the tangelo orange tree. I'm going to start simple this year. I got frustrated trying to do these mountains last year. We have a wonderful view of them from the pool so I shall get them clearly in my mind before starting.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Our first morning in Palm Springs

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day and our Desert Sun newspaper delivered to our door. We phoned to subcribe late afternoon yesterday but they really do have their act together for getting subscriptions going. It was a bit chilly in the house this morning so turned on the gas fireplace while we had coffee and read our paper. It's always interesting to get local news as well as all the usual national and international. Their front page was on the climate change issue just as the TC's today I see from looking online. We even get some Canadian news down here since there are so many snowbirds...about the only place in the world we travel to where Canada seems to exist.

Roger, the owner, met us yesterday and showed us the ropes. Makes it all easier and we really appreciated it after four days on the road. However, the US is all about luxury, ease, and convenience so it's not like trying to figure things out in France.

As I went out to the patio to pick a couple of tangelo oranges for breakfast I saw a hummingbird. The oranges were wonderful tasting and Roger says to feel free to pick from any of the trees in the complex...there are various types of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. We're going to enjoy this patio...very private, a little fountain burbling away and cactus plants. The sun seems to hit it around 9am.

I think the first order of business today will be shopping at Trader Joe's...the reasonable gourmet store that everyone raves about...Laura Huxley's favourite place to shop!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Our wonderful oasis

It's such a pleasure to come to Harris Ranch... palm trees, orange groves, adobe spanish style around this great outdoor pool. Much cost a fortune to heat it and the large hottub. Normally I wouldn't want a pool quite so warm but it feels heavenly. Just like last year the first thing I heard when I stepped out on our patio was the sound of hundreds of birds singing. You don't hear many birds when you're doing this type of trip in hotels. Big olive tree country around Sacremento...makes me think of the south of France. Living in paradise begins...

I'm having coffee while Jim is getting sufficient courage to rise. It's a sunny cloudless day and no one's in the pool so will have it all to myself (again...Jim swam yesterday but it's not something he does in the morning.

Just another 4 1/2 hours or so and we'll be in Palm Springs!

For those of you who are reading my blog I really look forward to getting emails from home when I'm on the road.